How I made my own book trailer for Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie

Here’s why I haven’t been blogging or tweeting –I’ve spent the last week and a half learning how to make my own book trailer. I had read Katie Davis’s ebook “How to Promote Your Children’s Book” and she talked about using book trailers. I liked the idea but the fee for a professional trailer wasn’t in my budget.  I’d read about other authors who made their own trailers, but I was pretty clueless about the process. Through Davis’s website, I found out about Darcy Pattison and her ebook “The Book Trailer Manual.” I took careful notes and outlined the steps I had to take. Honestly, several times along the way I thought about dropping the whole project, but I stuck with it. I’m glad I did.

Maybe you can learn from my process if you are as clueless as I was. First,  I watched trailers for other picture books and saw things I liked and some I didn’t. My book is a picture book and many in the age range  for that book can’t read. For that audience, a book trailer that only uses text with images and no voice overs isn’t helpful. I wanted children to be able to watch my trailer and understand what the book was about. I wanted them to want to have someone read them the book when they’d seen the book trailer. For those who can  read, I wanted them to go to the publisher’s webpage and look at the activity sheets my editor and I had created for the book.

Given my understanding of my audience and my goals for the trailer, I was able to craft  my script. I wrote one draft and sent it to my editor. She had some helpful suggestions and I revised my script. Then I revised it again. And again. And again! In fact, I revised the script while I was recording. I started out with grand plans but in the process of making the trailer, I had to scuttle some of those plans. As Pattison says in her book, simple really is better.

Because my book is a picture book with wonderful illustrations by Anne Jewett, I already had images to use. On Pattison’s recommendation, I gathered up sound effects and music. This process took several days. Only after I’d purchased sound effects from did I discover that imovie has some sound effects built in–still, I liked some of my purchased sound effects better so in the end I used both (and some of the purchased effects didn’t make the final cut because of lack of space).

I had my raw materials but no idea what to do with them. I discovered I had Garage Band and imovie 08 on my Mac. Really, that’s how clueless I was. I didn’t even know I had these apps! But once I found out I had them, I had to research how to use them. I needed major help. I spent hours viewing online tutorials and bookmarked those I wanted to read again.

After some more time reviewing the tutorials, I decided it was worth the expense to use the lengthy one on the website I paid $25 fee for a month of tutorials. I watched the tutorial and took notes and watched it again–and some parts I watched several times. (I plan on going back and watching other tutorials on other things–like my new iphone–really a great resource for non-techies–so good I’ll probably sign up for another month). From another tutorial I learned how to use Garageband to record audio tracks–and here’s where I put my sound effects and music and where I created my first voice overs. I also learned how to make podcasts–which I might use down the road.

So much for the sound–now the images. My publisher had sent me the full text of my picture book in pdf. But you can’t import pdf into imovie or iphoto, so I had to change the pdf into jpeg. I looked up converter apps and was considering buying one, when another search of the web produced a simple answer–to right click on the file and open with preview and save the page in jpeg. So simple!  I did this, then realized I wasn’t converting the pages into the best jpeg images so had to redo the ones I’d done. But then I uploaded the jpgeg images into  iphoto and edited them there–cropping them as needed. I didn’t want to hide the text (I liked that my images were obviously pages from the book) but some needed tighter focus. Then I imported the edited images into imovie.

I had grand plans for including still and old movie footage from archives .org, but quickly realized that I had to simplify if I was going to keep the trailer at around the one minute mark. (But only after I’d spent a day trying to figure out how to use the clips I’d downloaded).  Out went the film clips and some of the  sound effects I bought from  Also, I realized that the voice overs I recorded on GarageBand took up too much space so I rewrote my script and did voice overs directly in imovie. That way I had tighter voice overs.

After a long search, I found the right background music at audio I’d wanted to incorporate a conga clip but I didn’t have space for that. More tweaking followed (I even had to alter a sound effect in GarageBand to make it fit in better–very proud of myself then!). For the credits, I made slides in Powerpoint, saved the slides as jpeg images, imported them into iphoto and then into imovie.

I spent about $50 for the music and sound effects–a minimal expenditure. What I spent a lot of was time, but I do feel that time was well spent (even if I didn’t get any writing done). I’ll be able to make other trailers in the future and if I ever reach the level of hiring a professional to do this for me, I’ll understand what’s involved.

Finally, I have the great satisfaction of doing something I didn’t think I could do and sticking with a project even when there were times I wanted to give up. You can view the trailer on my website here. To embed the video directly into my blog would require paying wordpress to upgrade me and I don’t feel like doing that yet. Maybe down the road. After I make my next trailer. Or my first podcast!

Thanks to Katie Davis’s suggestion, I’m embedding the link to YouTube directly:

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2 Comments on “How I made my own book trailer for Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie”

  1. Katie Davis
    February 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    How cool! I’m so happy to have had a small part in your creative process. One thing – I went to look at the trailer but the link didn’t work for me. 8-(

  2. Jan Nerenberg
    February 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    Laurie: This is great. I reposted on my FB page and sent your connection to my sister, a librarian, to show to her school. Well done. Thanks, Jan

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